Safeguard #1: Do Not Allow Your Advisor to Have Custody of Your Investments
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I was recently asked if investors should trust their financial advisors. And my short answer, you may be surprised to hear, was no. Your financial advisor should not also have custody of your investments.

Financial Resolutions for the New Year – 2009
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Every year many of us make New Year’s resolutions and then can’t follow through because we claim we’re too busy.

A Christmas Sermon
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Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day. But for too many of us, it’s the season that unravels the careful financial planning of the previous 11 months. So this year, instead of trading your financial goals for a mountain of gifts and debt, take a moment to contemplate how a spiritual perspective can help you put your wealth in perspective.

Financial Time Perspective
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Philip Zimbardo’s latest book, “The Time Paradox” suggests that understanding your own time perspective may help you unlock the secrets of financial freedom. In other words, how we think determines who we are and what we do.

Owners of Second Homes: Beware of New Tax Laws
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A shortage of people are buying real estate and we’ve passed a one-per-customer tax incentive law.

When Will The Markets Stop Dropping?
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There is always a day of reckoning when people use debt to leverage their investments.

Dropping the Baton in Estate Titling
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How you “title” the property you own is a lot more important than you might think. Failure to title your assets properly could undo the best will and trust planning that money can buy.

Keep Christmas Your Own Way
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This year, give your family the gift of financial peace of mind. Celebrate the season simply.

Give Generously During Hard Times
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For charity to be a virtue, it must be freely given from your own resources.

The Assault on Free Markets
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Free markets are under assault in America. We have seen much hyperbole and slander in these past two years of political polarization. But the idea of capitalism and free markets has received more negative campaigning and vicious attack than both candidates combined.

Part 2: Privatization Could Fix Social Security
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Privatization eliminates benefits for those who can do better with 5% of their payroll taxes than the government does with the entire 12.4%.

Part 1: Social Security Is Still Broken
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All this toil to maintain an average benefit of about $12,000 a year!

The Seven Steps of Financial Preparedness
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When a hurricane threatens, making a plan and gearing up for emergencies is imperative. Economic emergencies happen too, but it may be less obvious how to prepare. Here are seven steps you should take to weather any financial storm.

Our Financial Crisis: The Result of Centralized Planning
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Regulation and centralized planning have caused financial instability and failing institutions. If this is the root cause, then many of the proposed solutions will only make matters worse.

Eastern Europe and Turkey: BRIC Wannabes
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Eastern European countries have been struggling out of the darkness of communist rule into the light of free markets.

BRIC Countries: China
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Free markets thrive when a country guarantees property rights and the rule of law. China possesses neither of these.

BRIC Countries: A Passage to Indian Freedom
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“The fence itself grazed through the field.”

BRIC Countries: Russia
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Russia never really tried free markets. Rated at just below 50% free, Russia is considered repressed.

BRIC Countries: Brazil
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One area where Brazil has excelled is making headway toward energy independence.

Behavioral Finance: Patience Is Its Own Reward
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To process financial information, our minds often attempt unwise shortcuts. By understanding behavioral finance, we can limit the information we use and keep our decisions balanced and on track.

Behavioral Finance: Herd Mentality
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One of the early studies on herd mentality was the Solomon Asch experiments in the 1950s. The setup was a mock vision test. In reality, all but one of the participants were actors, who after a few correct answers started agreeing unanimously on a wrong choice.

Behavioral Finance: Overconfidence
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Think of confidence as a continuum: Lack of confidence is paralyzing, self-confidence is good, but overconfidence is deadly. Successful investors seek to find a balance between rashness and timidity. Understanding the psychology that causes us to act overconfidently will help you avoid it.

Behavioral Finance: Mental Accounting
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The essence of successful financial planning is using your money to meet your life’s goals. Curiously our minds tend to fall prey to the fallacy that behavioral finance calls “mental accounting”.

Behavioral Finance: Anchoring
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Our first reaction to a complicated situation, usually instinctive, often does not serve our best interests. One heuristic that the brain uses to solve complex evaluations is to make an initial guess and then adjust from that point. This mental process is called “anchoring.”

Foreign Freedom Investing 2008
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You can both diversify for safety and boost your returns by adding international investments to your portfolio.

Rebalance Accounts Regularly
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A year ago when the markets were all setting new highs, people were asking what they should do with their retirement portfolio. I answered, “Rebalance.” Now that the market is setting new lows, I get the same question, and my response hasn’t changed.

Inflation Part 3: Protecting Yourself Against Inflation
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You can hedge your assets against underreported inflation and protect your retirement goals.

Inflation Part 2: The Results of Underreporting Inflation
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Inflation at this rate causes serious harm to our nation’s economy and its citizens.

Inflation Part 1: How the Government Lies About Inflation
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Officially, inflation today is calculated about 4%. Unofficially, it is over 7%.

Maximum Safe Withdrawal Rates in Retirement
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Certain assumptions such as maximum safe withdrawal rate are critical in order not to compromise a long and successful retirement.

Taking Early Retirement Withdrawals
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Eight exceptions to the age 59.5 rule allow for penalty-free withdrawals.

That Rebate Check Could Ruin Your Retirement Part 2
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You can’t spend money apart from your lifestyle because that’s the definition of lifestyle.

Tax Rebates Are a Losing Proposition Part 1
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Tax rebate stimulus checks are a cheap and inefficient gimmick.

Subprime Lending
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The subprime mortgage meltdown has cost the world 15% of its market capitalization, about $9 trillion. The primary culprit who caused all of this financial loss, pain and suffering is not the mortgage companies.

First Quarter Review 2008
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Systemic problems in your portfolio will continue even after the markets rebound.

Tax Freedom Day 2008
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If the federal tax cuts expire, we will have to work an extra week for the government.

529 Plans Help with Estate Planning
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A $360,000 investment can remove over $2 million from their taxable estate, savings $900,706 in estate taxes.

Decide to Be Rich
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It used to be that becoming a millionaire was regarded as a huge achievement. In today’s dollars, however, it is fairly trivial. The new rich is over $5 million.

Ignore Daily Financial Noise
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Investors are fickle. Investing should not be. When your investments go down, even slightly, you may be tempted to make poor choices.

Gold Mining Companies Glitter More Than Bullion
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Gold may glitter, but it is still better to own the mine.

Remember to Fund Your Roth IRA
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Historically, income taxes have not been this low since 1931.

Loss Aversion
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Psychologists suggest we feel a loss about 2.5 times as much as an equivalent gain. Even with a brilliant investment plan, it takes diligence to overcome our emotional biases and avoid making investing mistakes.

Eliminate the Capital Gains Tax
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The correct rate for the capital gains tax is zero, zip, nada. Perhaps it is even negative!

Learning to Live on Your Own, Part 2
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Here we offer some sound advice on how to put the money you’ve saved to work for you.

Learning to Live on Your Own, Part 1
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If you’re like most of today’s college graduates, you may find yourself ill prepared for the real world of financial responsibility. You never saw how your parents lived when they were first married and struggling. Consequently, you may be basing your after-school expectations on an upper-middle-class lifestyle. Here is my financial advice for those of you learning to live on your own.

For Now, Avoid Real Estate Investment Trusts
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Just over two years ago, we warned our readers that real estate prices might be peaking and ready to correct.

Financial Help for the New Year
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You owe it to yourself and your family to make certain you keep your financial New Year’s resolutions this year.

Scrooge’s Former Boss Fezziwig Is a Nester
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Scrooge’s riches did not make him happy. Fezziwig’s celebration did not make him poor.

Scrooge’s Nephew Fred Is a Traveler
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Ebenezer Scrooge’s nephew Fred is the character young people most easily relate to. He is young himself, carefree, in love and enjoying life with his friends.

How Shrewd Investors Save on Taxes
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You can use both investment losses and investment gains to good tax advantage.

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